Sunday, October 10, 2010

Saying Goodbye to 4E RPGA Play

I've been playing D&D 4th Edition mostly through a local RPGA group. The last time I played was a few months ago at a weekly RPGA game on Monday nights in Anaheim. The games are run out of a renovated Knights of Columbus Hall. Its a good place to play all kinds of games and its a good place to meet new players. I like the RPGA model of being able to drop into a game without the need for total commitment to a ongoing campaign.

I like the 4E system for what it does. Its a balanced system and is good for Organized play such as the RPGA. I also like it because if you are DMing a home game/campaign, prepping the game is so much easier than 3.5 was.

My current grudge is mostly with all the rules and powers errata Wizards of the Coast has been churning out. It has basically made the printed books practically worthless if used to try to make a legal character for RPGA play. In order to do so, you would need to reference and cross-reference pages of errata, printed out from a .PDF, that Wizards provides through monthly updates on their website.

Now if you have a DDI subscription (as I did), you get all the rules updates automatically updated into the Character Builder and Monster Builder. Thats all nice and good, but what if you no longer have a DDI subscription? You are pretty much screwed if you want to play a legal RPGA character then.

So I finally got fed up with this whole thing and cancelled my DDI subsciption (I bought a full year subscription, so I can use it until the end of November).

As for 4E? I will just play non-RPGA games and hopefully find a group that doesn't feel compelled to have the latest rules updates. I was DMing a 4E campaign that was put on hold because of one of my players had other real-life commitments. There has been some chatter of getting the game started again, sans that player and get some new players to fill in the ranks. I've been slow to get that ball rolling.

This past week-end I met some of the other players in the RPGA group I have played with and found out that the whole RPGA group has dropped out with the release of the Essentials line of products. As this would have repurcussions for RPGA play, I think they all got fed up as I did. I think the Marketing Dept, at Wizards better put down the bong. How many times do they think they can sell you the same old horse before people wise up and stop buying their products? I understand they do this with their Magic:The Gathering card game, releasing new cards and invalidating cards previously purchased as illegal for tournament play. I have to wonder about the people who still continue to buy those cards. Fortunately for me, I never got into Magic:tG. I've held a grudge against that game for the dissolution of my role-playing group I used to play in with my friends. They all got into it when it was first released and I just didn't understand the appeal.


  1. Thanks for the advice on my foray into 4e. Do you think it would be helpful to have the Rules Compendium at the table for handy reference? It seems to be a nifty little book.

  2. I understand they do this with their Magic:The Gathering card game, releasing new cards and invalidating cards previously purchased as illegal for tournament play. I have to wonder about the people who still continue to buy those cards.

    There are several reasons people buy cards they know are going to rotate out:

    1. As with the blogosphere, there's a huge silent contingent of MtG players who never play in DCI-sanctioned tournaments and could not care less about what's legal.

    2. The MtG Pro Tour. One can qualify for the PT in one of several ways - by having a very high rating in the relevant format, by having accumulated PT points for past successes, or by qualifying at a Pro Tour Qualifier event. PTQs are filled with players who aren't good enough to qualify in one of the other two ways and who harbor the (generally incorrect) belief that they have a chance to win the PTQ.

    PTQ players buy a *butt-load* of cards they know will rotate out sooner or later in hopes of qualifying for the PT. And some of the PTQs feature an Extended format that rotates relatively infrequently, so tournament-worthy cards in the most current format will probably remain Extended-legal for longer than the average player keeps playing MtG.

    (Actual professional players and high level PTQ players often don't have significant physical card collections at all, borrowing cards before events from developmental teammates and assorted hangers-on.)

    3. One of the more fun ways to play competitive MtG is Limited play, in which one constructs a deck from a limited pool of cards opened on the spot. Rotation isn't an issue with Limited play, and good Limited players can often "go infinite," i.e., sustain their gaming and even profit through the sales of leftover cards and prizes from Limited events.

    So short version: People buy cards that aren't going to be tournament-legal forever because they don't care about tournaments, they think they can win the tournaments and become professional MtG players, or they play tournaments where legality isn't an issue.

  3. @Christian: From what I hear, the Rules Compendium is probably a good buy, since it has all the rules updates and clarifications from the errata already in there. It doesn't have errata/corrections to the Powers. It does have the changes to the Skills. Not sure about Feats. I just hope to Bahamut that there isn't an errata to the Rules Compendium...:)

    @Scott: OK that makes sense.